Domestic Workers March for Respect and Recognition

Domestic Workers March for Respect and Recognition

On March 30, New Labor held a march with domestic workers in Lakewood. 65 people participated in the march, that coincided with International Domestic Workers’ Day. The purpose of the march was to bring attention to the problems faced by domestic workers in the workplace, demand respect, call for the end of cleaning entire rooms from one’s knees, and a stop of illicit activities by unregulated intermediaries that charge workers to be placed in jobs.

Domestic Work in Lakewood
Six days per week, all year long, hundreds of mostly Latina immigrants work as domestic workers doing cleaning (and much more) in houses in Lakewood, NJ. The majority clean multiple houses in one day, for stints generally less than 4 hours each. After a week, a worker may be cleaning as many as 12 houses. From January- March 2013, New Labor conducted sixty informal worker surveys. Results confirmed what was already known:

- 65% can’t eat in the home where they work or bring their own food (40% can’t eat a lunch)
- 44% have been forced to clean on their knees
- 40% have had to pay an unregulated intermediary to get work, typically $200-300.
- 46% clean in enclosed rooms and 56% without protection or training on the use of cleaning products
- 38% don’t get paid in full for all the hours that they have worked.
- 35% say that they have been yelled at or treated without respect on the job

The march was a beginning to improving working conditions for domestic workers and won’t be the last. The workers are uniting to come to agreement on what is their accepted terms and conditions as domestic workers.

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